Wednesday, September 30, 2009
SELLER: Kenneth Wilson a.k.a. Ginger Fish
LOCATION: Sunnynook Drive, Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 1,974 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Charming 1929 Two Story Spanish Estate Home. Countless upgrades have been done to this home including, refinishing the wood floors, new high efficiency air conditioner, new water heater, new basement laundry room with front loaded top of the line Kenmore Washer and Dryer, New Kenmore Elite refrigerator, new gas fireplace, new tile in kitchen, and tile downstairs in bathroom with jacuzzi claw foot tub, new custom master bathroom Steam Room/Shower Combo, new tile balcony.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: While combing through listings in some of the less pricey zip codes around Los Angeles, Your Mama recently came upon one described as a "Charming 1929 Two Story Spanish Estate Home." With that description, we jumped in feet first where we found that listing photos show a slew of framed up CDs leaning up on the mantel and hung on the wall over a grotesque, ca-ca colored leather sofa in the living room. Even though we recoiled in horror over the college student day-core, we got still got that special tingly feeling in our spleen that tells us we're looking at a celebrity owned property. So we did what we always do, we started sifting through the property records. It didn't take more than a minute or two to discover the casa is owned by a man named Kenneth Wilson who is otherwise known as Ginger Fish. It took a few more minutes to figure out that Ginger Fish is the oft injured drummer for the macabre, theatrical and controversy courting rock star Marilyn Manson. A few more taps on our trusty lap top computer revealed that Mister Wilson, er Mister Fish, listed his Atwater Village property in late August of 2009 with a somewhat wonky asking price of $1,096,000.
According to Wikipedia–which isn't always the most reliable source of information–Mister Fish's stage name is derived from a combination of the names of dancer Ginger Rogers and Albert Fish, "an American serial killer, cannibal and pedophile," Is any further personal information about this man necessary to get a firm handle on his inner essence and sense of humor? No, it's really not, is it?
Property records show Mister Fish purchased the Sunnynook Drive domicile in October of 2004 for an undisclosed amount of money. The 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom house is located in a modest section of Los Angeles called Atwater Village, a neighborhood with a Silver Lake zip code that borders Glendale, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Los Feliz, and the sprawling Griffith Park. Being the hub in a geographic wheel certainly makes Atwater Village accessible to and from many parts of the Tinseltown but, as far as Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are concerned, it's far to hot and smoggy for our delicate constitutions in that particular neck of the Lala Land woods.
From the looks of things, Mister Fish's property is gated with a small motor court leading to a front door tucked up into the corner next to the garage. What little of the front facade we can see in the listing photographs looks satisfactory and appropriately Spanish. However, despite a mite of architectural integrity on the exteriors, once you get in the front door all decorative hell breaks loose.
Although listing information indicates that "countless upgrades" have been made to the property including newly refinished floors, a new air conditioning unit, newly installed tile in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, a new fridge and a new front loading washer and dryer set up in a new laundry room located in the basement, the house is such a decorative hot mess that we don't even know where to begin. Do we start with that ornate, carved, commode-like vanity thing in the bathroom? Or do we begin with the utterly awful satin quilt bed linens? Or maybe we should go with the taupe and burgundy patterned curtains that Your Mama could only describe as "Appalachia Chic," the sort of drapery Dolly Parton might have aspired to before she actually got rich and figured out that rich people do not have curtains made of fabric that looks like it was ripped off a sofa bed from Levitz? Or will we be forced to embark on our journey through Mister Fish's interior trappings with all that crap sitting on top of the cabinets and refrigerator in the kitchen? What about the trio of water bottles in the bedroom that someone could not be bothered to remove before putting a million dollar asking price on the house? Or the fuzzy white stuffed animal sitting on the mantel in the bedroom? Ugh, it all makes Your Mama want to run bamboo shoots into our eyeballs. When we were just a wee thing our brassy and high-larious Auntie Jennie used to tell Your Mama, "If you don't have something nice to say, come sit next to me." But let's be honest butter beans, sometimes picking apart bad day-core is like shooting a dead cat...it's too easy and there's really no benefit to doing so. Dead is dead.
However and despite our Auntie Jennie's exhortation, Your Mama always tries to find some good to discuss even if we're looking at a pile of decorative doo-doo so with some trepidation will say that with a few twists and tweaks–including removing the coffee table tsotchke and Mister Fish's portrait of himself hanging over the fireplace–it really wouldn't take much to work the living room over into something cozy and appropriate for the drummer of one of the world's most illustrious rock stars.
Out back, Mister Fish's house has a small balcony over looking the back yard which has a brick terrace and a some sort of stone floored shelter where he has set up a bunch of manly looking work out contraptions that scare the bizness out of Your Mama. We know that many people like to bend and stretch and lift and contort themselves into physical perfection, but larhrd have mercy, Your Mama would know better how to remove a gall bladder with a whisk and a spoon than to use all that forbidding and torturous gymnasium equipment.
Naturally, since Your Mama doesn't know a hole in the ground from a tractor trailer, we haven't an iota where Mister Fish and all his shiny linens, exercise apparati and water bottles will be moving next. However, if we may offer a little unsolicited advice to Mister Fish: Hunny, if you want to sell that house in Atwater Village for a million bucks, Your Mama suggests letting us send our imperious but hard working house gurl Svetlana over to spend a few days cleaning that place up so at least it looks as good as it can in listing photographs because the current ones, alas, ain't doing you any financial favors. Do you know what we're saying?
Monday, September 28, 2009
LOCATION: Boulevard Leader, La Bocca, Cannes, France
SIZE: 1,000 square meters, 16 bedrooms
DESCRIPTION: Magnificent Florentine-style villa enjoying a fabulous landscaped parkland of about 11 hectares with winter garden sculptures, waterfalls, water-jets, a superb swimming pool with poolhouse, and breathtaking views of the sea. Personalities from all over the world have enjoyed a stay in the property.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Several days ago, while sitting on the beach soaking up sunshine and sweating out the booze toxins with our visiting friend Suzee! Q., Your Mama received a missive from Madame Mobilé on our portable email machine regarding a lavish estate just outside of Cannes, France that recently hit the market with the butt clenching asking price of €180,000,005. No chickens, Your Mama's nubbins did not mistakenly add another zero to that number, the estate is actually listed at one hundred eighty million Euros. A quick consultation with and a few flicks of the well worn beads of our beloved and bejeweled abacus reveals that sky high figure converts to a diarrhea inducing $264,528,007.
The approximately 27 acre hillside estate that overlooks the Mediterranean, dubbed La Croix-des-Gardes, is owned by notorious Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Actually, while Your Mama knows the property was most certainly owned by Mister Khashoggi at one time, it's a bit unclear to Your Mama whether Mister Khashoggi still owns and maintains the vast estate or if it was sold in the late 1980 or early 1990s when the billionaire had some cash flow problems.
The controversial businessman and shameless publicity seeker–who once touted himself as being the richest man in the world–is (in)famous for his alleged involvements in a slew international scandals and conspiracies. He has cavorted with Muammar al-Qaddafi, was famously accused (and acquitted) of alleged involvement as a key facilitator in the Iran-Contra arms deals and was later accused (and acquitted) of assisting friends Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos loot the Philippines of hundreds of millions of dollars as well as secretly stashing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of paintings that shoe fiend Imelda allegedly swiped from the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. And that's just the tip of Mister Khashoggi's international incident iceberg.
At the apex of his fame and wealth in the 1970s and 80s Mister Khashoggi was a big baller with a high flying lifestyle. He reportedly owned a dozen or more posh properties around the world including an 18,000 square foot condo doo-plex condo that sprawled across the 47th and 48th floors at the Olympic Tower in New York City and contained 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a ballroom, indoor gardens and an indoor swimming pool. Mister Khashoggi also flaunted his riches with at least two jet planes (a DC-8 and a DC-9) as well as a 281-foot boat he called the Nabila which was seized by the Sultan of Brunei in 1987 for non-payment of a $50,000,000 loan. The sick rich Sultan sold the 12-state room, helipad-equipped floating mansion to Donald Trump who in turn sold it in 1991 to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud who re-dubbed it the Kingdom 5KR.
Your Mama has no idea when Mister Khashoggi purchased the Florentine style villa surrounded by extensive terraced gardens that surely require a flotilla of minimum wage men to clip, water and mow. According to listing information, the main house includes a reception hall, lounge, library, dining room, winter garden, guest crappers, walk in closets and kitchens, the plural being used in the listing. The main house includes at least six bedrooms. In addition to a study, there are two large suites on the second floor with private poopers that include bee-days for washing the naughty bits and 4 additional bedrooms, each with pooper and bee-day, on the third floor.
The basement is comprised of cellars, a lock-up garage for 6 cars, a staff apartment with living room, kitchen and terlit as well as two additional bedrooms that share a pooper. Other buildings on the property include a 4-bedroom guest pavilion, a 2-bedroom gardener's accommodation, and another studio flat. Listing information also reveals that underneath the swimming pool, near the "machine room," is another maid's bedroom. Oh larhd have mercy someone save Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter iffin we ever had the nerve to attempt to house our imperious house gurl Svetlana in a bedroom located next to a "machine room" and underneath the damn swimming pool. The south of France would surely see a hissy fit involving ear piercing screeching, hair pulling and extensive property destruction.
Anyhoo, oher luxuries for the sprawling estate include an elevator–because people this rich simply do not use the stairs–and security measures include a gate house, an armored door and an alarm system that probably rivals that of Fort Knox. Given Mister Kashoggi's reputation and access to arms we would not be surprised to hear that he employed snipers to prowl around on the villa's roof.
Your Mama eagerly waits to hear who, if anyone, buys this property at a time when Russian billionaires and wildly rich Asian potentates have lost vast amounts of their wealth during the latest global economic tail spin. Even still there are many who made billions off the losses of others so surely there are 10 or 12 people out there who still possess the means and desire to purchase this property and spend millions each ear on taxes, maintenance and staffing. We just don't know who they are.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We had some excitement at the house this past week which I thought I’d share with you. First, there was a photo shoot for a local publication about….holiday decorating! Of all things! Because as readers know I’m not a big holiday decorator OR a big hostess, but I do have my annual Hanukkah party for my family – so that counts. For the photo shoot, though, I set the table religious neutral. I’d love to share the pictures with you, but these will have do until next month. As with all photo shoots, there was much hustle and bustle around the house. First my sweet dog Georgie decided to get deathly sick that afternoon with infected paws! Poor thing. I had to rush her out to the vet at 5:30 that evening when I realized she couldn’t even walk. She’s all healed up now, but still – not exactly what you want to happen during a photo shoot!
And even MORE excitement was when the candlestick melted all over my skirted table with its J. Robert Scott SILK table cloth. OK. Breath slowly. My cardinal rule for any clients with skirted tables is when actually using the table for a party, ALWAYS first put down a layer of waterproof cloth over the skirted tablecloth, then top it with a decorative linen tablecloth. That way, when grandpa spills his red wine – you will only stain the topper and NOT the expensive silk tablecloth underneath the waterproof lining. Of course for the photo shoot, I didn’t want to put a topper on for the pictures – I mean, no one was going to eat or drink, so why bother? Famous last words. I didn’t even think about melted candle wax getting all over the J. Robert Scott SILK (I’ll say it again) skirted tablecloth. Don’t bother sending me instructions on how to get it out. I’ve done it all, about ten times: ironed out the wax through paper bags, then cleaned it with dry cleaner solution. It actually works pretty good. At this point I don’t think I will need to replace the J. Robert Scott SILK (one more time!) tablecloth, at least. There is just a little bitty tell tale sign of the wax left at this point and I may be able to get that out too. We’ll see. I mean, how many times can you go through the process before the dry cleaning solution eats a hole through the silk? I’ll let you know. So, before you hope you get your own photo shoot – take it from me, it’s not always smooth sailing. Especially when the photographer wants to take your picture in front of all the bright lights and the only thing going through your mind is: How bad do my wrinkles look? Is my hair straight or frizzy at this point? Do I need more under eye cover up? But, all in all, despite a deathly sick dog, melted candle wax, and major wrinkles, it was great fun!!!!! Truthfully, it was, and the crew were two of the nicest people out there, thanks guys! Can’t wait to see it!
Which leads me to remind you – if you haven’t listened to this week’s Skirted Roundtable, it’s on that timely subject, Holiday Decorating. We playfully called it: Two Grinches and a Jew discuss holiday decorating. If ever there were three girls who shouldn’t have discussed holiday decorating it would have to be Linda, Megan and me. But somehow, we pulled it off, I think. Be sure to listen HERE.
And there was even more excitement at Maison Cote de Texas. Mr. Slipper Socks Man is getting a little wary of all the flower arrangements that mysteriously appear at the house while he is hard at work earning a living. He is starting not to believe me anymore when I tell him they are from a “reader” – and is wondering if I might be having an love affair! Well, I am – with the readers of Cote de Texas, who happen to be the nicest, most thoughtful and generous people in the world! One reader whom I gave some decorating advice to (not worth the price of the flowers either, I’m sure) sent me this most beautiful arrangement of roses and strawberries!!!! Isn't’ it beautiful! A very public Thank You to Linda! And, Maryanne from Beadboard Upcountry in Brenham sent me this wonderful package with some French hand lotion attached to the ribbon. Maryanne is getting reading for the onslaught of shoppers from the Round Top Antiques Fair this week. It’s already in high gear – check out her blog HERE where she is giving Round Top updates on very important matters like Port O Potties! OK.
So what was in the package? Maryanne sent me the loveliest of books - all about Flamant – the famous French store (HERE.) Thank you to Maryanne and her famous husband, Robespierre! See you in two! And if you are going to Round Top – stop by Beadboard Upcountry in Brenham across from the Courthouse to meet Maryanne and see all the things she just bought in Paris.
And speaking of Round Top – one of the largest, if not the largest, antique fairs in the United States is happening this week. If you are into Swedish and Belgian, Mark Sage, aka Bobo’s Intriguing Objects, will be at the Big Red Barn Wednesday through Sunday! This is some of the actual merchandise he will have with him – all wholesale priced! For a more in depth look at Bobo’s Round Top merchandise, go to Velvet and Linen HERE to read all about it! I can’t wait to see his booth – he has rented out 20 spaces for it all.
The neatest thing about Round Top is all the friends you see out there. Brooke from Velvet and Linen is coming along with Angela from Washington! I can’t wait to meet them both. My Tanglewood House client Angela (another one) will be out there too, along with my sister-in-law who’s KW Ranch I’ve featured before. I’ll actually be staying with her – that lucky thing. I hear famous American turned French blogger Corey Amato is out there SOMEWHERE in Marburger setting up a booth right now! The two original Cote de Texas STALKERS will be there of course. And probably Rachel Ashwell and Mary Steenburgen will be there too (not with us though – but you never know!) (I know they won’t be, but a girl can dream!) Who else? Probably half of Houston, Dallas, and Austin and all of Washington County. Is Hill Country House coming???? ANN?? Sally Wheat’s already been out there for days traipsing through the fields looking for new things for her booth and house. Who else? YOU??
And if you happen to see me Wednesday afternoon somewhere in Warrenton sitting around having a Diet Coke or coffee, if I’m lucky, be sure to say hi and sit down to join me!
And don’t forget to listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable HERE as Two Grinches and a Jew discuss Holiday Decorating!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Many times in the emails I receive, there will be pictures of readers houses – usually fresh from moving in, or a recent remodeling. Rather than keep the pictures all to myself, I have decided to share them with you in an ongoing series called Readers Houses. Some of the houses are small and full of wonderful DIY projects and others are larger and look more professionally decorated – both are wonderful in their own way. Today – the reader’s house comes from Deerfield, Illinois – just north of Chicago. The owners are a builder and his wife who is an interior designer. The couple sometimes collaborate on projects and their own house is the result of one such partnership. Their house was a true labor of love that they both enjoyed creating from the very first blueprint. The result of all their hard work is truly amazing. The photography itself is gorgeous which makes the house sing! I think you will thoroughly enjoy this newest Readers Houses installment! To see the pictures in their entirety – be sure to open your browser on maximum view – they are B-I-G!
The entry hall: from this paneled space – with its beautiful herringbone wood floors – you can see straight into the living area and on the right, into the dining room. The house is transitional – slightly contemporary and slightly traditional with a muted, quiet color scheme throughout (except for the children's rooms!) In the mirror on the right – you can see the banister of the staircase with its glass topped newel post leading upstairs. Unfortunately, there is no other picture of the stairs. Let’s take a right first – into the dining room.
The dining room has beautiful wallpaper – all in soft taupe's and whites. A large mirrored cabinet between the two windows reflects the crystal chandelier. Remember – mirrors should always reflect something beautiful! Notice the ceiling, a soft metallic taupe, the same color as the wallpaper. The owner used a combination of chairs - tufted velvet mixed with host Chippendale styled painted wood chairs. The curtains are a loose weaved fabric that continue the shimmering quality of the room. What a beautiful dining room – so soothing!
Straight off the foyer is the living room. The mood from the dining room continues here with the soft taupes and accents of black. Here there is more velvet tufting, with the only pattern found in the silky pillows. The large seagrass area rug helps to tone the room down from being too dressy – but the overall atmosphere is one of tastefulness and sophistication. To the right of this room, through the black double doors is the computer room (see pictures below.) The wall next to the doors is mirrored which makes the entire living area appear larger.
The view of the living room that faces the left side of the house – here you can see the built in painted black cabinets and the pretty chaise lounge. The kitchen is through the opening here.
The kitchen is a large area with an adjoining breakfast area, dominated by a gorgeous built-in cabinet, painted black. Again, the same soothing feel is found here, but the taupe color is now replaced with white. Isn’t that built-in gorgeous? I love the mirrored doors with the faux arches. The contemporary styled chairs are on one side of the long wood table and a banquette is on the other. And I love the series of light fixtures over the island – so effective!!!!
In the kitchen, the right side has no overhead cabinets – instead there is one long series of windows overlooking the back yard. The sink is incredible – so large it has two faucets! Amazing! And I love the open shelving filled with white dishes. The dark wood flooring helps to warm up the space which could have been too cold looking without it.
The range is another incredible part of the kitchen. Whoa. Pure lust – it’s like a piece of jewelry in the kitchen!! The countertops are white marble. This kitchen is truly beautiful!!!
To the right of the living room, there’s a wonderful computer room for the couple and their two daughters. Beautiful chairs! Notice how the children's art work has been framed and is placed around the countertop. Must make the girls so proud! All the boxes stored with crafts and paperwork are neatly labeled. Someone who lives here is seriously organized!!! And extremely neat - the house is spotless. This room is painted in the same soft taupe of the living room.
The computer room has a beautiful bay window, overlooking the back yard, which is fitted out with a cushion and pillows. Very pretty fabric shades at the windows. Such a nice tranquil space for homework and computer surfing. Wall to wall carpet helps cut down the noise level.
In the library, the color scheme changes and gets deeper with a dark blue velvet sofa and dark wood paneling. But the show stopper here is the fireplace! What a screen! It looks like a piece of art itself!!!
In the library two chairs face the velvet sofa. You may think the blanket is H for Hermes, but it is really H for Hunter, the adorable dog! Of course there would be an adorable dog in this house, everything else is!
Upstairs, the oldest daughter’s room has a large scaled blue and green wall paper. I love the chaise in here – perfect for when friends spend the night. All the upstairs bedrooms have vaulted ceilings.
Daughter #1’s adjoining bathroom has seafoam colored tiles and a charming little make up chair.
Daughter #2’s room is more traditional – pink and green with a beautiful French caned headboard and side tables. She gets a window seat in her room for friends.
The master bedroom also has a large scaled wallpaper, but it is, of course, much more sophisticated than the daughters paper. A sitting area fills up the space in the large taupe and seafoam colored suite. Notice the scale of the upholstered headboard – brought up higher than usual so that it can be seen over the euro sized shams. A beautiful crystal chandelier lights the room, along with sconces instead of lamps.
The master bathroom is filled with white marble - and, as in the kitchen, there is beautiful cabinetry and very gorgeous hardware.
And finally – a view of the dormer window on the second floor. What an interesting vignette and what a beautiful house! It’s so interesting to see what readers houses look like - they are all so different, yet share one quality – the owners all have a deep love of interior design.
Thank you so much to the homeowner who shared her beautiful house with us today! If you live in the Deerfield area and are interested in hiring her for interior design work, email me and I’ll pass on your information to her. And remember – if you have a house you want to share with us online, send me the pictures!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
SELLER: Linda Dano
LOCATION: West End Avenue, New York, NY
SIZE: 1,100 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
DESCRIPTION: ...A beautifully appointed living room with bookcases, white Sunbrella covered sofas and a hand-blown glass chandelier opens to the large east-facing terrace where dinner can be served in a romantic gazebo. The large elegant bedroom, with furnishings including a huge antique armoire and and Asian screen behind the bed, faces west and opens to a terrace with views of the Hudson...
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A few weeks ago Your Mama received a breathless email from our ever intrepid researcher B.S. Beaverman who linked us over to a listing for a picayune penthouse on the Upper West Side of New York City labeled "West Side Celebrity Penthouse." Your Mama and ol' B.S. immediately started sifting and sorting through the property records and although we were able to quickly ferret out the building address and apartment number, the name of the owner eluded our snooping. A quick look at the listing photos didn't reveal much either, but we did notice an Emmy sitting discreetly on top of the armoire in the bedroom. After fruitlessly twisting the prop records around every which way but Sunday in order to flush out the name of the owner, Your Mama and ol' B.S. Beaverman reluctantly abandoned our wild goose chase and figured celebrity real estate boy wonder Max Abelson would eventually figure it out and write about it in his Manhattan Transfers column in the New York Observer.
Then, yesterday, we received an unexpected, lengthy and clandestine communique from someone calling themselves Viva! who generously provided Your Mama with the ownership poop on this "West Side Celebrity Penthouse." According to Viva! the itty building building topper on West End Avenue is owned by Emmy winning soap legend Linda Dano who has the petite pied a terre on the market with an asking price of $1,675,000.
Miz Dano is probably best known for her 17 long years on the soap story Another World as the glammy and dramatic romance novelist Felicia Gallant, a character based on real life author Jacqueline Susann who penned Valley of the Dolls which was made into a dee-lishushly awful movie starring Sharon Tate who was, we all know, snuffed out by Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins who, coincidentally, died today of brain cancer. Anyhoo, after Another World was given the heave-ho in the mid 1990s, Miz Dano went on to play a character named Dr. Rae Cummings, a character that appeared on All My Children, One Life To Live, Port Charles and General Hospital. Multi-tasking Miz Dano also has a long standing passion for fashion and day-core. Not only did she author two books in the 1990s about how to make you and your house look its best (Living Great and Looking Great), she currently has a fashion consultant business and appears on the QVC with her Linda Dano Home Collection. In other words, this is one bizzee ladee.
Once Viva! told us Miz Dano owned the penthouse it took only moments to come up with a couple of secondary printed confirmations in the New York Post. First we turned up a blurb in gossip City Adams' column from September 2, 2009 which read, "Daytime diva Linda Dano putting her prewar Upper West Side penthouse pied-à-terre, with all its furnishings, up at Sotheby's." Then we unsurfaced an April 2009 article in which Miz Dano is interviewed and thoroughly describes her aerie.
Listing information reveals the 17th floor building topper measures a modest 1,100 square feet and contains just 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. According the the New York Post article, Miz Dano and her late huzband–advertising executive Frank Attardi–purchased the petite penthouse pied a terre in 2002. She claims, "We paid a million to buy it and added at least another couple of million on the update." If that is true, and we have no reason to disbelieve her, then it would seem at it's current asking price of $1,6750,000 Miz Dano will lose a substantial wad of money once the penthouse sells.
The renovation of the three room residence was overseen by the late Mister Attardi who added moldings, squared arched doorways and added a fake fireplace. For her part, Miz Dano the DIY-er, did up the day-core herself. She took a black lacquer coffee table and painted it to look like wood, she hot glued silk flowers on some quince branches and she added dirt and pebbles to the pot of a fake spray of orchids. Fake! Guuuurl, Your Mama does not care for orchids. Period. While we mostly applaud Miz Dano's decorative prowess, we are about to go ballistic and berserk over these fake orchids. We find them trés cliche and all too common in Architectural Digest-y interiors. Please children, just say no to fake flowers. Really. Just think about it for a minute. Fake flowers are like fast food: good in theory, solves the problem of hunger, but kind of makes you queasy (and fat) when you eat it.
Anyhoo, Miz Dano has done up the day-core with an undeniably elegant, black and white exoticism heavy on the zebra skins including a large zebra skin rug splayed out on the floor of the entrance hall that Miz Dano calls "Harvey." We do think it's cute Miz Dano named her dead animal pelt rug "Harvey" and we do confess to swooning over a good zebra print, but in truth we've always been a bit squeamish about animal skins. We're not going to get all PETA on Miz Dano's ass but, would they could, we're sure they'd be tossing blood all over up in that penthouse.
The furniture in the living room, which is anchored by a a gorgeous seal-colored silk rug, has been upholstered in white Sunbrella fabric. At first we pursed our lips and got all indignant about the Sunbrella fabric but when we thought about it a bit more, it makes perfect sense. Not only will it stand up to the harsh sunshine that streams through the wall of windows, it's also easy to clean and when you have white sofas and chairs and a couple of long bodied bitches named Linda and Beverly, easy to clean white upholstered furniture is, as Madame Stewart would say, "A good thing."
The small apartment is wrapped with an exuberantly planted terrace perfect for nude sunbathing, barbecues, and according to Miz Dano it would be a nice spot to get married. Miz Dano and her green thumb are responsible for the over flowing greenery and the iron gazebo and presumably, decorating diva that she is, the ceramic urns and sundials.
Although it's a bit of a pity there's only 1 bedroom and 1 pooper here, as far as it goes, this is a lovely apartment and Your Mama would be perfectly happy here if we didn't have the Dr. Cooter, two pooches and an angry pussy in tow. We love the long and generous foyer, we swoon over the windowed walk-in closet (since ours is, alas, windowless), and of course, the wrap terraces and views of the mighty Hudson are, for a city dweller, beyond desirable.
Property records show that Miz Dano and her late huzband also owned–and she continues to own–a couple of historic 18th century farmhouses in Washington, CT that according to her website they "dismantled, moved and re-erected them on 20 acres." And according to Viva!, who seems to know all things Dano, Miz Dano also leases a lovely but modest apartment in the Century City area of Los Angeles.
LOCATION: Ibis Point Circle, Boca Raton, FL
SIZE: 14,985 square feet, 8 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: The monumental 1.6+- Sanctuary point compound complete with guest house and north/south tennis court stunningly commands 604+- feet of deepwater shoreline...Evoking the exoticism of Morocco, the palatial main residence is accompanied by a Marrakesh-style guest house, each opening to its own resplendent grand loggia. Indoor and outdoor living spaces interweave amid the romantic gardens and pool.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Before there was dastardly Dick Fuld, detestable John Thain, and low-down Lloyd Blankfein, there was sneaky former Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski who was convicted in 2005 for misappropriating and illegally pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars of Tyco's money. As a result of his egregious and dumbfounding financial malfeasance and despite his claims of innocence, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge saw fit to levy Mister Kozlowski with $239,000,000 in fines and restitution and to let him spend 8 to 25 years thinking about his despicable deeds at the Mid State Correctional Facility in Marcy, NY.
Much as he became a poster boy for corporate greed, excess and shameful pecuniary impropriety, it's perhaps Mister Kozlowski's lavish lifestyle paid for by misallocated Tyco money that really made people want to scratch his eyes out. The former Tyco tycoon was lambasted in the press for tossing his second wifey, a former waitress named Karen, a two million dollar, week long bacchanalian birthday bash in Sardinia that featured a birthday cake in the shape of a woman's boday and a ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David pissing vodka from its wiener. Who says money can't by class? Anyhoo, the real issues, the legal issues, were not the excessive expense and vulgar display of tawdry tastelessness, it was that Mister Kozlowski allegedly paid for half of the party with Tyco's money claiming some of the guests were Tyco employees. Pleeze. Does this man really think people are that stupid and gullible?
Mister and Missus Kozlowski's taste in real estate were no less indulgent than their hard partying ways. In 2001, Mister Kozlowski paid a reported $16,800,000 to Blackstone Group billionaire Steve Schwarzman for a doo-plex at the very posh, 7-unit 950 Fifth Avenue which is also home to moguls Mort Zuckerman and Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz. Mister Schwarzman famously decamped to a doo-plex at the high nosed 740 Park Avenue for which he is rumored t have paid somewhere around thirty million smackers and which is said to sprawl over 20,000 square feet with 37 rooms, 11 fireplaces, 43 closets and a $5M Cy Twombly hanging in the living room. As fascinating as that is, Mister Schwarzman's toe curling real estate portfolio is really another story for another day. After buying the doo-plex at 950 Fifth Avenue, it was reported that Mister and Missus Kozlowski embarked on an extensive renovation that cost them–or Tyco–somewhere around $12,000,000. During Mister Kozlowski's trial it came to be known that he and the Missus furnished their newly done doo-plex digs with mind-boggling items like a $6,000 shower curtain and a $15,000 umbrella stand in the shape of a damn poodle all of which was paid for, allegedly, by Tyco. Larhd have mercy children, Your Mama would not spend $15 on a poodle shaped anything let alone fifteen grand on a stoopid umbrella stand. And furthermore, who was the greedy decorator who bought a shower curtain at Linens 'n Things for forty bucks and charged the Kozlowskis six thousand? Because that's what really happened. Okay, we don't really know if that's what happened. We don't really know that someone sent their assistant to Linens 'n Things for a shower curtain but Your Mama would bet our bank account that the decorator's mark up on that shower curtain would be enough buy a new Thom Browne suit.
Their Manhattan co-operative apartment was hardly the Kozlowski's only piece of prime real estate. They also owned an 8 bedroom and 10 pooper ski chalet in Beaver Creek, CO which was sold in 2006 to a Texas based oil and gas man for $10,000,000, and they still own a sprawling ocean front estate on swank Squam Road on Nantucket Island which was first listed in 2006 with an asking price of $23,000,000 and which remains for sale with a much lower price tag of $16,450,000. However, it's their massive manse in Boca Raton, FL that we would like to discuss today. Thanks to The Barefooted Mailman, we've recently learned the Kozlowski's Ibis Point Circle estate in the gated, water front community called The Sanctuary has been hoisted on to the open market with an asking price of $24,900,000. The palatial property, with more than 600 feet of waterfront that allows multi-yacht dockage, is reportedly being sold to comply with the couple's dee-vorce decree. That's right, babies, shortly after Mister Kozlowski was put in the pokey, Missus Kozlowski filed for The Big D. This former waitress was simply not going to become one of those gum snapping prison wives who have to get their hoo-hoo searched on visiting day.
One set of property records Your Mama accessed indicate Mister Kozlowski purchased the 5 parcel property in December of 2001 for $10,583,700 and that the manse measures 10,701 square feet with 8 bedroom and 8 poopers. The Palm Beach tax man, however, shows the 1.7049 acre property was purchased in December of 2001 for $3,000,000 and shows the residence sprawls across 14,985 square feet with a diarrhea inducing 2009 tax bill of $230,699. A third source states the house measures 10,701 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms. Your Mama is clueless about why all the discrepancies but suffice to say the house is huge and there are probably more rooms and terlits that one minimum wage gurl can keep clean all by herself.
Oddly and surprisingly, the main house is approached via a wide but short driveway that ends at a front facing garage. We find it rather surprising and entirely unacceptable for an estate of this expense and magnitude to have a front façade that resembles an overblown tract house in an upscale development with a three car bay front facing garage.
The main house is entered through a pointed Gothic archway that opens to a foyer with a high, carved wood coffered ceiling and a curving staircase that looks like it might be fashioned from marble. The interiors, according to listing information, were done by Florida based decorator Marc Michaels who used a warm and neutral palette of browns and beiges...in every damn room. The vast but somewhat narrow living room has an over-scale herringbone pattern wood floor, a very high ceiling, a bunch of beige furniture and series of towering, arched and filigreed French doors. Other rooms include a large kitchen with a particularly large and potentially lethal pot rack divided from the gigantic breakfast room by a trio of pointed archways and a couple of potted and meticulously spiraled juniper bushes. The family room, which opens to the pool deck through French doors that flank a massive, carved marble fireplace, includes a paneled bar tucked into the corner, a billiard table and enough beige patterned upholstered furniture to last Your Mama a lifetime. Although listing information does not include photographs of the private quarters, Your Mama has to assume they are equally and fussy and equally and beige.
Listing information and a look-see at an aerial photo reveals that in addition to dockage for multiple yachts–because who does not need parking for three or six big boats?–the lushly landscaped grounds include a properly aligned north/south tennis court surrounded by swaying palm trees, romantic gardens, a water side swimming pool, a Marrakesh-style guest house and and at least two large loggia's for when one doesn't feel like being totally inside or completely outside in the brutal southern Florida sunshine.
Although we know where Mister Kozlowski will be living for the next number of years, where ex-Missus Karen Kozlowski will head next is not in Your Mama's purview. However, Your Mama does not expect big living dee-vorcee will be downsizing all the way down to the 1,334 square foot, 2 bedroom and 2 pooper house property in Delray Beach, FL that records show she owns in her maiden name of Mayo, particularly since there is some suspicion by Tyco attorneys that the amicable dee-vorce is merely an effort to move his money out of reach and, according to court documents filed by Tyco, facilitate "an asset transfer arrangement designed to take assets out of Kozlowski's name and place them in the hands of a `supporter,' but out of reach of this court and his creditors"
So the saga of Dennis Kozlowski and his profligate ways continues apace and, apparently, unabated.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
In the case of Billy and Katie, it's two side by side ocean front properties in sleepy but seriously swank Sagaponack, NY that they bought in 2007 for a combined, head spinning and almost unimaginable $28,385,000...in cash. That's run bunnies, property records indicate Mister Joel paid for both of his Gibson Lane lovelies in cold, hard cash. Just the thought of that makes Your Mama go all slack-jawed, blurry eyed and weak in the damn knees.
The unlucky in love piano man listed the properties in mid-August of 2009 and the news was first reported–we think–by the peeps at Page Six in the New York Post. At that time, the actual listings had yet to hit the interweb so in a fickle moment Your Mama decided we didn't want to write about the properties. Besides, we figured, everyone else had already done it. But then, capricious minx that we are, later decided the children might like a wee peep at how the truly, madly, wildly rich shack up in the Hamptons.
Both Gibson Lane properties have now been hoisted onto the open market with individual asking prices of $22,500,000 and $12,500,000 adding up to a constipation making and combined total of $37,000,000. Let's look at them separately since, likely, they'll be purchased that way.
SELLER: Billy and Katie Lee Joel
LOCATION: Gibson Lane, Sagaponack, NY
SIZE: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Oceanfront Cottage in Sagaponack Village with 145 ft. of glorious beachfront. Three bedrooms and two baths define an easy, carefree summer style on 1.2 acre property. Move in as is or use expansion potential to create a custom seaside escape.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: According to property records, the least expensive of the two Gibson Lane properties was purchased in November of 2007 for $11,635,000. Listing information shows the shingled "cottage" sits on a 1.2 acre site that stretches 145 feet along the beauteous beachfront and includes a private stair down to the wide, sugar sands of the once dog-friendly now not so dog friendly Gibson Beach. Neither listing information nor property records Your Mama accessed reveal the square footage of the modest and quintessential beach cottage but they do indicate there are three bedrooms and two poopers.
From the looks of things, Mister and the soon to be ex-Missus Joel have done little more to the cottage than slap some white paint on the walls, the floors and every other flat surface, add some Carrara marble to the counter tops and sparsely furnish the rooms with a twin bed or two, a leather club chair, a wee tee-vee, a big carved wood boo-fay for storing the Scrabble board, and a gold velvet sofa. Heaven knows Your Mama can get behind the campy, retro-sheekness of a gold velvet sofa, but we're thinking this might not have been the best choice for this house which, according to listing information, lacks central air conditioning. We are well aware that air conditioning isn't often needed when you live this close to the ocean, but hunnies, just imagine trying to get comfortable on that spongy, gold velvet thing after a dip in the roiling waters of the Atlantic, with sand in your suit, on a sweltering and humid summer afternoon afternoon. Oh, hell no.
None the less and "day-core" aside we rather love this place. Yes, that's right, we l.o.v.e. it. It reminds Your Mama of our very first rental shack in a kooky community of quirky water front shacks on the North Fork of Long Island that we shared with our lezbian ladee pals The Chicken, Flower and Joneetha back when we were all young, nubile and on the make. That's the North Fork folks and absolutely not the North Shore which are really two quite different places.
Anyhoo, although we are not–nor will we ever be–in the market for a twelve million clam shackety-shack in the Hamptons, iffin we were, this is not so far from what Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would be after. We don't need nor care for all the amenity laden 10,000 square foot "beach houses" that line many of the shady lanes of the Hamptons and cosset their owners in the lap of luxury. This puny place is, in truth, just enough space for a beach house for Your Mama, the Dr. Cooter, our two long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly who love to frolic in the surf and perhaps even our mean ol' pussy Sugar who, generally speaking, does not appreciate the beach. As for our sunshine hating house gurl Svetlana, well, we'd have to put her up in a fancy motel with gourmet room service in order to keep her from sneaking into our bedroom in the middle of the damn night to cut off all our hair as punishment for all the sand we'd surely tramp into the house.
But, as usual, we digress. Most hoity-toity, nouveau riche Hamptonites probably see this listing, as pricey as it may be, as land value only, simply a flat lot on the beach in highly desirable Sagaponack where they can erect a hotel sized house with 10 bedrooms, 149 terlits and a golf simulator in the basement. Ack! It would really be nice if for once some ridiculously rich person and in an act of rare residential restraint did little more than make a few necessary updates to this sweet shack. If we were the betting type, and we're not, we'd bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly a massive shingled number with some dumb name like Ocean's Rest will soon loom over the shore. Just look at what that Ira Rennart fellow did down the beach with his 100,000 square foot, 29 pooper Italianate palace. So, sadly, goes the Hamptons.
Listen children, we are in desperate need of a root beer, a nerve pill and maybe even a rather stiff gin and tonic to quell this throbbing headache being visited upon us like an unannounced relative so you're just going to have to check back later for our take on the second, larger, and much more expensive Hamptons hideaway that Mister and soon to be ex-Missus Joel had done over by nice, gay decorator Nate Berkus and have on the market for $22,500,000.
LATER SAME DAY: We are back thanks to the assistance of the Dr. Cooter, the miracle of modern medicine, and the bracing effect of a little early afternoon gin and tonic. Onward we push...
SELLER: Billy and Katie Joel
LOCATION: Gibson Lane, Sagaponack, NY
SIZE: 5,742 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...Residence has been expertly renovated in 2009. Tastefully decorated by Nate Berkus, the main house is turn-key complete. Terraces on both levels guarantee breathtaking views of stunning Sagaponack land and seascapes...
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Property records reveal that in June of 2007 Mister Joel and the soon to be ex-Missus Joel forked over $16,750,000–in cash–to the Oscar nominated actor Roy Scheider who has since gone to meet his big director in the sky. Given that the property is currently listed at $22,500,000 it would seem Mister Joel is not only trying to recoup his cash and costs for renovations but to make a few million extra too.
Records show the unassuming and pleasantly haphazard looking but still quite large 5,742 square foot shingled residence sits on a flat, 1.44 acre parcel and listing information states the property has 145 feet of ocean frontage. The 4 bedroom and 6 pooper house was designed as an upside-down house which means the public rooms are on the second floor and the bedrooms on the ground floor. This sort of set up is a bit unusual and Your Mama's momma absolutely hates this kind of thing because it means having to schlep groceries up a flight of stairs. But grain of salt chickens because Your Mama's momma can not bear the thought of anything that even resembles exercise. Larhd have mercy children, when we were just knee high to a grasshopper we remember our dear mother getting all dolled up in leotards, leg warmers and lipstick claiming she was going to the gym to "work out." She'd come home an hour later looking exactly as she did when she left, not a curl out of place, not a bead of sweat to be seen. Come to find out her "work out" consisted of laying on a bunch of tables with automated moving parts which lifted her arms and legs in a way as to mimic exercise but not in a way as to actually be exercise.
'Tis true but we digress yet again. Let's get back to this upside-down thing. The reason it sometimes makes sense to have the living room upstairs and the bedrooms down is so that everyone who occupies or visits the property can take full and better advantage of a bewilderingly beautiful view from the highest perch possible. And if y'all think about it, it makes perfect sense because what damn person needs a view of the ocean when they're asleep? Nobody, that's who.
The first floor of the larger of Mister and soon to be ex-Missus Joel's two Gibson Lane Beach houses contains, according to listing information, three bedrooms each with a private pooper. Also on the first floor is the master bedroom which has a large brick fireplace and which Miss Berkus has worked over in muted shades of sand with brilliant punches of orange and kelly green. Because we love the color–we love almost anything orange–we'll give that orange fabric draped over the side table a pass which is usually a no-no in Your Mama's big book of decorating dos and don'ts. However, were we ever to visit this house Your Mama would need to figure out a way to discreetly take that tangerine colored, high backed velvet sofa home in the faux Louis Vuitton Keepall we got on Canal Street in New York City back when you could still buy that fake designer crap openly, right on the damn sidewalk.
The master bath, which looks quite commodious, has a fireplace and a large trough-like soaking tub, is entered through a pair of pocket doors that appear to be perforated (or maybe painted) with an Asiatic flower-like pattern. Since we've never been invited to Mister and soon to be ex-Missus Joel's beach house on Gibson Lane–and why would we be?–it's unclear to us the purpose of the room outside the bathroom with the simple yet wonderful trompe l'oeil paint treatment on the walls but we're going to pretend it's another of soon to be ex-Missus Joel's fab dressing rooms (see below regarding the former couple's New York City townhouse).
Nate Berkus, the nice, gay decorator responsible for day-core here, has had all the walls blown out on the second floor and the architecture of the sharply peaked wood beamed ceiling exposed which gives the aura of a beach house but all the drama and volume of a loft. We like. The living room stretches the entire width of the house, has not just one but two wood burning fireplaces, several seating areas and a long wall of French doors that open to an ocean side terrace with long, spine tingling views up and down the beach. In the center of the house is the dining room furnished with an eclectic mix of antique this and thats including an egg-shaped crystal and gold chandelier. It's not what we'd put there, but it's really good in a pack-a-day, divorcee-with-a-past who lives alone in her ranch style house professionally decorated in 1972 sort of way.
Anyhoo, behind the dining room is the rather too wide kitchen–it looks like a long way to carry a pot full of pasta from the stove to the sink–all done over in white subway tiles with gray grout and stainless steel cabinetry. Honestly kids, we're kind of over stainless steel cabinetry. Actually we've been over stainless steel cabinetry for years so it's a bit disappointing and surprising Miss Berkus made such liberal use of them here. Our violence prone house gurl wants to slap Miss Berkus silly for this and she isn't even responsible for keeping those cabinets finger print free. None the less, the mac daddy Wolf range with that industrial hood gives Your Mama goose bumps and we love a kitchen without overhead cabinetry as long as there's plenty of under counter storage and a generously over-sized pantry, preferably the walk-in variety.
Also on the second floor is a library/home office with built in book shelves, a 1930s style upholstered chair that we have a sneaking suspicion might be a recliner, and a slim, glammy mirrored desk which we'd love in the right circumstances but not in this one. That globe light in a cage chandelier, on the other hand, made us pee in our pants a little, in the good way.
The wood floors on the second floor have been whitewashed and then given a David Hicks-ish honeycomb pattern paint treatment in a slightly darker, grayish tint. We like this idea in theory, but not so much in the execution. It actually looks amazing in the living room where the background appears warm but it looks washed out, unnecessary and bordering on decorative overkill in the kitchen. Your Mama hates to say that because, generally speaking, we think Miss Berkus is quite talented and knows how to put a mixy-matchy room together like the professional he is. But we speak our mind, so that there is Your Mama's mind about the paint treatment that poor wood floor has been made to endure. Maybe it's just the light in the photographs and this actually looks like an impeccable stroke of genius in real life. Could be.
Listing information also reveals the property also includes a two car garage and a separate studio annex with a loft area perfect for that live in house gurl you don't trust in your home after you've turned out the lights and gone to bed. Listing information also indicates there is a usable variance for a swimming pool on the east side of the property. Is there anything more dee-luxe than a swimming pool with an ocean view? And if you're spending twenty million or so for a beach house, what's another few hundred grand to shore up the dune and sink a pool into the ground? Pennies babies, pennies.
Although not quite in the league of prolific property collector Nic Cage, Mister Joel is quite the real estate maven in his own right. In addition to the two ocean front houses on Sagaponack, his portfolio bulges with a 14,000 square foot waterfront mansion on the natty and nabobish North Shore of Long Island. This property, bought in 2002 for $22,000,000, is where the May-December duo got hitched in 2004 and which they listed for sale in 2006 with a spine tingling asking price of $37,500,000. The property has since been taken off the market.
The couple also picked up a townhouse in New York City's celebrity stuffed West Village which they had all did up and done over by Nate Berkus who installed a glowing, glam and surprisingly delicious gold leafed dressing room. It is widely presumed the soon to be third ex-Missus Joel will receive the townhouse as part of her settlement. Shortly after marrying, the couple also forked over $13,500,000 for a 7 bedroom and 8 pooper getaway on La Gorce Circle in Miami Beach.
Prior to wedding the current soon to be ex-Missus Joel, Mister Joel purchased and lived–at least part time–in a not particularly private house in downtown Sag Harbor, NY where he often hides in plain sight surrounded by 20 or more vintage motorcycles. The rather public location sounds strange until you realize it sits directly across the street from his private marina where he stashes his 36-foot boat, the Alexa. Since the demise of his most recent marriage, Mister Joel has been spending a lot of time in his Sag Harbor house where in July he was reported to be entertaining the age appropriate former soap actress Alex Donnelley. Miz Donnelley, the sacrificial rebound lamb, seems to have been replaced by a new and much younger ladee named Deborah Dampiere. Just last night, on the 22nd of September 2009, Mister Joel squired Miss Dampiere to the Metropolitan Opera's opening night of Tosca, the curtain call of which was vociferously booed by all the glittered up socialites, culture vultures and rich people who get dressed up and attend things like opening night of Tosca at the Met. But that's really another story for another blog.
Now then, as Belma Buttons and Tovah McQueen would say, we are through.